Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My tattoo

If I haven't mentioned this before, I am 46 years old.  I got a tattoo this summer - I often say I got my first tattoo, because I fully expect to get another.  It is a Celtic cross on my left inner forearm.  Very visble and about 2" x 3".  I love it. 

I get lots of looks for my tattoo, and once I convinced people that it was real (I had the henna believers after me for weeks!), it has been interesting to hear why people think I got the tattoo I got.  Here's the real story.

I have always wanted a tattoo - well, for 20 years anyway.  But I wanted a tattoo that meant something to me, at a time that meant something to me.  Hadn't thought about it for years until last summer, when my husband was away at treatment and I was single-parenting and starting my own recovery program with Al Anon.  I was driving home one day and had the idea pop into my head "I need to get a tattoo."  This was the time I needed to mark and to have a forever reminder of this turning point in my/our life.  Hmmm...I thought, entertaining this idea...but where would I put a tattoo?  My requirements were this:  I need a spot that I can see it myself, without a mirror, and a spot that is not lumpy or mushy, which is hard to find on my body these days.  I was driving, and happened to focus just for a split second on my left arm, which was on the wheel - and there it was!  The spot!  Skin still smooth and firm, perfectly visible yet cover-able.  Hmmm...I thought, entertaining this location idea...but what would I get?  I kid you not, within a minute, I recalled my love of Celtic crosses...I went home and googled "celtic cross tattoos" and had a perfect image of what I wanted within 24 hours.  And it turned out great.

"But what does it MEAN?" everyone says (except, surprisingly, my mother, who only wondered if it hurt!).  Many believe it is a testament to my faith.  Honestly, I just think Celtic crosses are gorgeous.  When I visited Scotland years ago, I took dozens of photos of the crosses I saw.  I also bought a cross necklace when I was there and I wore it all the time for more than a decade, but lost it a couple years ago.  Had never found another one that was just the thing...but now I did and put it on my body forever.  I also kind of admire the Celts.  I read that they had this fertility symbol that was generally a decorated phallus - a post with a circular piece on top.  The Christians came in to convert the  Celts and wanted all the pagan symbols to go, so the Celts put a cross behind the circular piece to appease the Christians, and voila!  the first Celtic cross.  So really, agnostic that I am, it is also a symbol of how one religion just melds, historically, into another as needed...that story also feeds my oppositional nature.

My tattoo reminds me of the commitment I made this summer to change my life for the better.  The trinity knot is included in the Celtic knotwork within the cross and that certainly has a connection to the Al Anon program too, so the "change for the better" reminder includes a reference to my recovery. 

The next tattoo is going on my right foot - ideas still percolating but I think this one will have color...


  1. I am still fuming that you beat me to the tattoo. I have wanted one, or the first as you say, for a very long time. My problem is that I really really like several images and can't quite narrow it down. I certainly am contemplating my first on my right foot! What are some of your ideas?
    I wish I had a moment ot commemorate right now as you did this summer but it is more of a remembrance that I am looking at too.

    Finally, did it hurt? on scale from 1-10, how much?

  2. My tattoo did not hurt. Maybe a stinging sensation but truly, I could have read a book while he was doing it! I'd give it a 1. Tattoos on feet, however, are "take your breath away" pain, I'm told. Will surely get back to you on that, when the time comes.

  3. Sounds like a great reason for a tattoo! Congrats on your recovery as well.

  4. Well I just added a third tat.... about a month ago. a small butterfly on the inside of my left wrist. Scott got his second and .... are you sitting..... Bryan got his first!! A guitar of course! on his right shoulder. its in the shape of his current guitar and in a tribal pattern...very cool.

  5. There was a time when I wanted a tattoo but, like you, it would need to represent something significant, something I never wanted to forget. That time hasn't come along yet and I've grown less enamored with anything permanent but don't necessarily slam the door on the idea.

  6. sebtown: what is kind of interesting is that I, too, had lost interest in the idea of a tattoo for a few years now. So when this "I must do this" came flying into my head, I was honestly shocked. Never say never, right?


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